Should I Get a Business Loan?

Running a successful business often requires a steady flow of capital to cover various expenses and seize growth opportunities. However, not every business has the financial resources readily available to meet these needs. This is where business loans come into play. In the UK, there are several reasons why a business might consider getting a loan, and there are different types of loans available to cater to specific needs. In this blog, we’ll explore the various situations in which businesses seek loans and delve into the different types of business loans, including asset and invoice financing.

Many entrepreneurs require initial funding to launch their business ventures. A business loan can provide the necessary capital to cover expenses such as equipment purchase, marketing, and operational costs during the early stages.

As businesses grow, they often need additional funds to expand operations, open new locations, or introduce new products or services. A business loan can fuel these growth initiatives.

Maintaining a healthy cash flow is essential for any business. Sometimes, unforeseen expenses or fluctuations in revenue can lead to cash flow gaps. A short-term business loan can bridge these gaps and keep operations running smoothly.

If your business relies on specialised machinery or equipment, financing options like asset financing can help you acquire these assets without straining your cash reserves.

Businesses with seasonal fluctuations may need funds to stock up on their stock during peak seasons. A business loan can ensure you have enough stock to meet customer demand.

If your business has multiple outstanding loans or high-interest debts, consolidating them into a single, lower-interest business loan can simplify repayment and save on interest costs.

Businesses with outstanding invoices can use invoice financing to access a portion of the money tied up in unpaid invoices. This can improve cash flow and help meet immediate financial needs.

These are traditional loans with fixed terms and interest rates. Term loans are suitable for various purposes, including expansion, purchasing equipment, or funding working capital. In the UK, you can find term loans from banks, online lenders, and financial institutions. Your accountant may also be able to help you find the best loan for your business.

A business line of credit in the UK functions similarly to a credit card. It provides businesses with a predetermined credit limit, and you can draw funds as needed. Interest is only charged on the amount borrowed. It’s a flexible option for managing short-term expenses and working capital fluctuations.

Asset-based loans use your business assets, such as machinery, vehicles, or real estate, as collateral to secure the loan. In the UK, asset financing is common for acquiring or refinancing assets. It allows businesses to access capital while retaining ownership of essential assets.

Also known as invoice factoring or discounting, this type of financing is prevalent in the UK. Businesses can access a portion of the money tied up in unpaid invoices. Invoice financing improves cash flow, which is crucial for meeting immediate financial needs while awaiting client payments.

For new businesses in the UK, the Start-Up Loans program offers government-backed loans with low interest rates. It’s designed to help entrepreneurs kickstart their ventures.

In the UK, there are several types of business loans to meet a wide range of financial needs. Whether you’re a startup in need of initial capital, an established business looking to expand, or a company facing cash flow challenges, understanding the available loan options can help you make an informed decision. It’s advisable to consult with financial experts or loan advisors who are familiar with the UK market to identify the most suitable financing solution for your specific business circumstances.

should I become a limited company - thinking

Should I Become a Limited Company?

A common dilemma faced by many budding entrepreneurs and freelancers in the UK is: should I become a limited company? This question arises as a natural step in the growth journey of any small business or self-employed professional. But, deciding to incorporate a limited company is a crucial decision that can have far-reaching implications on various aspects of your business. Let’s break this down to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Limited Companies

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand what becoming a limited company entails. It is a type of business structure where the company is an entity separate from its owners. This means that the company has its own legal identity, distinct from its directors (the people who manage the company) and shareholders (the people who own the company).

In the UK, limited companies can be categorised into private limited companies (Ltd), which cannot offer shares to the public, and public limited companies (plc), which can. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on private limited companies, as these are the most common choice for small businesses and freelancers.

Benefits of Becoming a Limited Company

Limited Liability

The primary advantage of incorporating a limited company is limited liability. In essence, if the company runs into financial trouble, the personal assets of the directors and shareholders are not at risk. The financial liability of the owners is limited to their investment in the company, providing a safety net against unforeseen business issues.

Tax Efficiency

Limited companies often enjoy more favourable tax rates than sole traders or partnerships in the UK. As a director, you can choose to take a combination of salary and dividends, the latter of which is taxed at a lower rate than income tax (dependent on company profits).

Credibility and Perception

Becoming a limited company can boost your business’s credibility. The perception of being a larger, more established entity can be beneficial in negotiating contracts and attracting clients or investors.

Considerations Before Incorporating

While the benefits are enticing, there are some important considerations to bear in mind before deciding, “Yes, I should become a limited company.”

Administrative Responsibilities

Limited companies face more stringent reporting requirements, including submitting annual accounts and reports to Companies House. This can increase your administrative burden and necessitate hiring an accountant.


As a limited company, your business’s details, including director names and registered office addresses, become public record. Some business owners may not feel comfortable with this level of exposure.

Difficulty in Withdrawing Money

Unlike sole traders who can withdraw cash from their business without any tax implications, withdrawing money from a limited company is not as straightforward and can be subject to taxes.

Making the Decision

Ultimately, the decision to become a limited company is a personal one that hinges on your business’s specific circumstances. It’s essential to balance the potential benefits against the administrative, financial, and legal implications that come with incorporating.

Take into account factors such as the nature of your business, financial prospects, and tolerance for risk and administrative work. You should also consult with an accountant or business consultant to make sure you understand all the implications.

Should I become a limited company? It’s a question that deserves careful consideration. Done right, it could be the launchpad that takes your business to the next level. But, it’s vital to ensure you’re making the right move for the right reasons. So, take your time, do your research, and make the choice that best suits your business aspirations.

confused person

Top 10 “I didn’t know that” questions answered

I didn’t know that?

This is a phrase we hear a lot, especially when someone sets up a limited company and especially in January when personal tax returns are due.

Here are our top 10 I didn’t know that questions

1 . I didn’t know that I needed a separate bank account?

  Yes, a limited company is its own entity and funds held in a personal account will be deemed personal income and could attract tax. Therefor you will need to set up a business bank account for your limited company.

2. I didn’t know I had to register to pay myself?

Yes you need to register with HMRC for a PAYE reference and deduct tax and NI on your earnings.  Note single director companies do not get the £5,000 employers NIC relief.

3. I didn’t know I paid tax on dividends?

Yes, you pay tax on dividends and these are declared on your personal tax return.  

4. I didn’t know you had to make a profit to declare dividends?

Yes, dividends are a distribution of profits and not an expense.  You need to prepare a profit and loss account, work our corporation tax payable and then you can declare a dividend.

5. I didn’t know I needed paperwork for the dividend?

Yes, you need a board minute and dividend voucher prepared on the day that you declared the dividend.  Backdating to ‘FIT’ your accounts is illegal.

6. I didn’t know I had to keep accounting records? 

Yes, HMRC require you to keep accounting records and the Companies Act.  We recommend Xero as an accounting software provider.  Giving over a years bank statements and records to prepare is expensive and you will have no idea of dividends you can vote if any.

7. I didn’t know I paid tax on monies taken from the company? 

Yes, if you have borrowed from your company you will pay tax on your Corporation Tax Return.  This is a holding tax that will be repaid once you are back in funds with the company.

8. I didn’t know my company had to register for VAT? 

Yes, if you exceed £85,000 in a rolling 12 months you must register for VAT and in some cases it is better if you do register for VAT.

9. I didn’t know I couldn’t run my car through the business?  

You can run the car through the business BUT it will be classed as a benefit in kind and you will pay tax on the benefit.  Some cars are much better through a Limited company than others.  Electric cars are a great benefit.

10. I didn’t know it was so complicated? 

This is where a good accountant will help you manage your limited company so that you comply with the companies act, HMRC and help move your business forwards.


Take a look at this video:

13 Ways an Accountant Can Help a Small Business Owner

There are two huge mistakes that many start-ups or small business owners make. The first one is trying to manage their own accounting system. This is often done incorrectly which can hurt the business in the long-term. The second mistake is assuming that an accountant is only good for managing accounts and filing Tax or VAT returns.
An accountant is a financial guru and an all-around business advisor all in one. Accountants are an incredibly valuable member of any small business team as they can offer a lot more than just accounting to small business owners. Here are 13 ways accountants can help:

1) They can help you go from business idea to start up

They will give you advice on what you need to create the foundation for a successful business e.g. determining the best business structure, creating your business plan, opening a business bank account etc.

2) They can assist with the financial analysis in your business plan

They can also help with loan applications and forecasting.

3) They analyse your finances to determine where your business’ money is going

They can then advise you on where to make improvements in your processes and cash flow so your business can scale and grow.

4) They will explain your financial data so you can make financial decisions with confidence

A good accountant will break it down so you understand the ins and outs of your business at all times.

5) They close out your books and create end-of-year financial reports

With your reports, an accountant will recommend changes to budgets or forecasts.

6) They compile and submit your taxes and financial reports to HMRC and Companies House

As well as submitting, they can also calculate VAT, provide advice on estimated tax payments, and provide guidance.

7) They make sure that your accounting procedures comply with government regulations.

Legislation changes all the time. An accountant keeps up to date with these so they can check your company’s tax position and keep you compliant.

8) They oversee your company payroll and payment process

They can help you streamline your business processes to work smarter, not harder.

9) They can help you streamline your business processes to work smarter, not harder

They can provide advice on the type of accounting software that’s suitable for your business, how to track your expenses, and also invoicing and payroll. More time means more earning potential!

10) They can identify risks in financial transactions to prevent fraud

Many business owners want to identify investment opportunities too. An accountant can provide advice on this and check whether an investment is solid.

11) They can help you identify areas for growth in your business as well as ways to save money

By looking at cash flow patterns, inventory management, your pricing, business financing.

12) They will work with you to create a business budget and stay on track

Every business owner needs a budget to support their business goals. An accountant can actively help with this.

13) They can advise you on all the big things

Reports, taxes, audits, business strategy, you name it and they can probably help you with it. Need advice on property or equipment leasing and purchase? Need guidance or resources to assist with scaling the business? Guess who can help – Accountants!

Accountants are key to business success, wherever you are on your business journey

These are just some of the ways that accountants can work with you to support your business. Whether you’re launching a start-up, you’re a small business owner who needs help with running the business day-to-day or you’re wanting to really scale your business, an accountant can provide essential advice and guidance, every step of the way.

Starting your own business after redundancy

Facing redundancy can be incredibly challenging, but it could also be the perfect time to start a brand new career based on your interests, your lifestyle and your aspirations.
Does this sound too good to be true?
With these five steps, we can help you transform your redundancy package into your very own startup:

1) Take advantage of your notice period

Typically, you’ll need to work a notice period. Instead of worrying about what comes next, use this time to start planning your new venture!
Dive into research, enrol in training and network as much as possible. The sooner you can start, the better! After all, wouldn’t you prefer to plan for your future whilst you’re still on the payroll?

2) Develop a business plan

Success is all about strategy, so it is important to develop a business plan.
Every business plan will look slightly different, but the main areas you want to focus on are the:

  • Executive summary – create a brief overview of your business detailing what services you offer and what you intend to achieve.
  • Management bio – this is your opportunity to introduce yourself, your values and your professional experience.
  • Marketing plan – identify your target audience, USP and market competitors before explaining how you intend to attract your desired audience.
  • Financial plan – because you’re just starting out, your financial plan will be primarily made up of projections (sales projections, expensive projections, cash flow projections etc.). Make sure you’re thorough with your research if you intend to achieve accurate estimates.

Your business plan will become the blueprint for your company, so the more information you can include, the better – particularly if you want to attract investors!

3) Address any legalities

To establish a legitimate business, you need to fulfil certain legal requirements. Now, these requirements may vary depending on your business model and industry, so it’s always worth checking whether you need to obtain a specific type of permit or insurance.
You can find these answers by visiting the government website or checking with your relevant industry bodies.
It is also worth hiring an accountant early on to advise you on the financial aspect of your business.

4) Open a business bank account

This next point is directed specifically to our sole traders. Although you don’t have to open a business account, we strongly suggest you do. It will make your bookkeeping 10x easier! So unless you want to waste your time separating your expenses and risk receiving a penalty, you should seriously consider setting up a business bank account.
If you are starting a limited company this is also something you will need to do, however it is essential rather than it just being strongly advised.

5) Set yourself boundaries

Starting a business is an exciting endeavour. However, it can become all-consuming. So for our final point we wanted to discuss the importance of setting yourself boundaries and practising self-care.
Firstly, give yourself some grace. Redundancy is incredibly difficult to navigate, so try not to be too hard on yourself – especially during those early days.
And secondly, start as you mean to go on. Give yourself lunch breaks, take time off and allow yourself opportunities to relax. Only then can you avoid burnout and achieve sustainable growth.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade

No one wants to be made redundant – but that doesn’t mean it has to be all doom and gloom. Instead, this could be the start of your exciting adventure into entrepreneurship! So take the chance, pursue your passion and totally transform your career. You may just find redundancy works in your favour.

Hiring an accountant could save your business!

A lot of new businesses fail. A lot of old businesses fail. A lot of previously successful businesses fail. Why? Usually, it comes down to issues around finances.

If you’re starting a new business, or if you’ve been in business for years and are trying to grow your team and scale your company, hiring an accountant can help. Here’s how.

1) They help you become more tax-efficient

Tax isn’t easy. Legislation changes all the time and any delays or mistakes could be costly. With an accountant filing your taxes for you, you can have the peace of mind that it is all being done correctly and on time. Not only that, but it saves you a lot of time and resources AND it saves you money. Accountants can reduce your tax burden by identifying opportunities for deductions, and they can help you avoid any government fines.

2) They mitigate the risk of financial mistakes

Accountants know how to identify financial risks and avoid them before they become major problems. What this means for you is that you’ll never spend money you don’t have, you will save money in all the areas you can, and you’ll be more aware and better equipped to stick to a proper budget. Fewer to no financial mistakes means minimal losses and more profit!

3) They actively help you to grow your business

If you get an accountant on board in the early stages of your business, they will help you to develop a plan for growing your business in the right way. Not only that, but they will also ensure that your finances are handled correctly from the beginning so that it doesn’t take over everything else in the future. As your business grows, they will start to provide advice in other areas such as budgeting and financing; payroll and recruitment, cashflow forecasting and investments, and business strategy. They will work with you to ensure you have the financial capabilities and processes needed to work towards your business goals.

Survive and thrive!

Most new businesses fail because of financial issues, so don’t make the same mistake. Hire an accountant as early as possible and get the guidance and expertise needed to take your business to the next level. They will not only help you save money, but they can help you make money as your business grows too.

The 9 step guide to business development

Here at 1 Accounts we are invested in helping your business develop and succeed. We find allocating some time each week to business development is the best way to really make sure that your business grows according to your plan.

Business development is:

  • any activity that is nurturing the future of your business, not the day-to-day tasks that tend to drain the majority of your time.
  • about nurturing the right relationships so that you can create opportunities for your business and attract loyal clients who value what you and your firm do.
  • highly valuable and is key to the long-term, sustainable success of your firm

So how do you do it and do it well?

1) It’s all about the client

Rather than sell at potential clients, focus on what they need. Always listen to them first and demonstrate empathy with their problems before ever talking about yourself and your firm.

2) Address their problems and fears

Now you know their specific challenges and worries, address them. What’s the biggest headache for your clients and prospects? How can you alleviate this pain for them? Again, talk to them about what keeps them up at night and listen. They’ll tell you all you need to know.

3) Solve their specific problem

If you already have a product or service that solves their biggest pain point, great! If you don’t, create something from scratch. Diversifying could open you up to a whole new target audience.

4) Think about your main offering

In a single sentence, sum up what you offer to your clients and this will be your brand tagline. Steer clear of things like “we give a personalised service” and be more specific. Do you take away a specific fear and help your clients sleep at night? Do you give them more time to spend with their family?

5) Differentiate yourself with your website and social media

You need to be spreading the word about how you can help your clients. Essentially, you need to be helping them to find you. Make sure you have a high-quality website that is SEO-optimised and has pop-ups offering valuable resources. You will also need to be regularly active on social media.

6) Build your brand

This takes time, but becoming an expert in what you do will reap the rewards. Use your tagline offering in everything that you put out there and produce content consistently. Whether it’s blogs on your website or posts on social media, create that emotional connection and you’ll see that people will engage.

7) Make it easy to get in touch

People will take the path of least resistance so make it easy for them to contact you. Contact details should be easy to find on your website and all call to actions should be clear throughout your marketing materials.

8) Nurture the relationship

So much business is lost through a lack of following up, so be there in front of your clients and prospects to build those relationships. Every blog post you’re sharing or newsletter you’re sending out should offer value; it should answer a question or solve a problem or inspire action. There is real value in regularly being in front of your clients, just as long as what you’re saying is useful to your target audience.

9) Focus on getting your existing clients to buy more from you

You already have a great relationship with your existing clients and they already like you, trust you, and know first hand the value that you offer. It makes sense then, to help them get more from you.

It really is as easy as 1,2,3…9

While business development is essentially sales, you need to always be thinking about who you are targeting and what they want to hear, rather than talking about yourself and what makes your firm special. What are their specific problems and aspirations? Using these 9 steps, you can get creative with your messaging and really stand out to your prospects.

Talent Management Planning: Why Do It?

Talent management planning is a term we often hear floating around the business world, but what exactly does it mean and why should we do it?

To help you gain a clear understanding, we’ll explore what talent management planning is, what it consists of and, most importantly, why it’s beneficial to both you and your employees.

What is talent management planning?

Talent management planning is all about implementing effective strategies to attract, retain and nurture skilled professionals.

What should a talent management plan consist of?

Each company’s talent management plan will look slightly different based on its unique set of goals and objectives. However, each company’s plan should focus on improving these primary features

  • Recruitment
  • Training and development
  • Employee retention
  • Performance management
  • Employee engagement
  • Succession planning

Why is talent management so important?

Talent management planning helps ensure you’re getting the most out of your teams by implementing systems and processes to support their development and improve their performance.

In short, it is the blueprint for hiring and maintaining a highly-skilled, high-performing workforce, which, as we all know, is imperative to your company’s success.

How does talent management planning benefit your business?

Besides the obvious advantage of strengthening your overall workforce, there are several other benefits to implementing a talent management plan. Some of which include:

  • Increased engagement: by demonstrating a keen interest in your employee’s goals and personal development, you will find they are more engaged with their work, making them more productive and more profitable.
  • Efficient recruitment: you can utilise recruitment software to streamline your recruiting process, filter applicants and ensure you’re attracting only the highest quality candidates.
  • Improved staff retention: by offering your employees consistent opportunities to enhance their skills and advance their careers, you’re providing them with a clear incentive to retain their position within your company.
  • More candidates for succession: by adopting formal performance management techniques, you can see which employees are most suitable for senior roles and adapt their training to prepare them for these positions.

How does talent management planning benefit your employees?

Perhaps the best thing about utilising a talent management plan is that it’s mutually beneficial. To demonstrate our point, here are just a few of the benefits your employees can enjoy as a result of effective talent management planning:

  • Better onboarding process: by refining your onboarding process, employees will be more engaged and more at ease from the get-go. So do your best to make the onboarding process as personal as possible.
  • More training opportunities: by facilitating regular training opportunities, you’re providing your team members with the necessary tools to upskill and advance their careers.
  • Greater career autonomy: by partaking in mentorship programmes, you’re able to support your employees with their own career goals by offering advice, recommending training programmes and aligning them with appropriate internal opportunities.
  • Positive working culture: by assisting employees with their goals, funding their training and fostering a culture of growth and development, your employees will be more motivated, engaged and invested in your business.

Don’t underestimate the value of talent management planning

There are countless benefits to developing a talent management strategy, so don’t overlook this opportunity to strengthen your team! Invest in their development, support their career aspirations and focus on creating a compelling company culture. Your employees, profit margins and performance metrics will all thank you for it!

How to combat rising wages and staff shortages

It’s no secret that hundreds of small businesses are suffering from increased wage costs and staff shortages. These issues span multiple industries, from hospitality to construction, and have only intensified since the beginning of the pandemic.

So, how do you handle rising demands with limited labour?

To help you navigate these challenging times, we’ve curated a list of strategies to boost your staff retention, improve your recruitment processes and increase your profit margins.

Here are our 5 strategies for combating rising wage costs and staff shortages:

1) Hire graduates, and interns, and apprentices

Graduates and interns offer an effective and inexpensive solution to staffing shortages.

Straight out of college or university, these young adults are primed for training, ready to be moulded to your company’s exacting needs. What’s more, studies have shown that hiring graduates can significantly increase your staff retention rates. Approximately  57% of graduates still retain their position five years later.

Hiring an apprentice, whilst quite an investment in time, can also be beneficial for many companies.

Although hiring a graduate may not be a quick fix, it’s a brilliant way to source new talent – plus, the ROI is second to none.

2) Invest in your employees

Loyalty is a two-way street. Therefore if you want your employees to remain loyal to your company, you need to invest in their development.

Provide them with opportunities to upskill, fund their training and encourage them to diversify their skillset. Not only will it improve your retention rates by 30-50%, but it will also allow you to cultivate a team of highly skilled professionals.

3) Utilise mergers and acquisitions

More and more companies are deciding to partake in mergers and acquisitions. Why? Because resources are limited and successors are few and far between.

By combining forces the parties involved gain access to a larger workforce, a greater array of talents and more viable candidates to succeed their business.

Plus, with an increased market share, companies are better equipped to manage rising wage costs as they acquire more capital and increase their profit margins!

4) Delegate administrative tasks

With labour dwindling and demand rising, our employees are really being pushed to their limits. So don’t exacerbate the problem by burdening them with non-essential responsibilities. Instead start automating repetitive tasks and hiring administrative staff to handle any paperwork.

Although investing in new employees and tech can be costly, they can notably increase productivity, profits, and employee engagement. Stop placing unnecessary strain on your staff and start streamlining your administrative tasks!

5) Update your recruitment style

Now more than ever you need to be investing your resources into your recruiting process. After all if you want to solve your staffing issues, you’ll need to attract and attain new employees. So what can you do to improve your recruitment style?

Firstly, you need to be harnessing the power of social media. This allows you to broaden your search whilst offering applicants an accurate insight into your business.

Secondly, you want to focus on your company culture as this can quickly attract or deter applicants. Ask yourself, what makes your company the place to work? Do you offer impressive employee benefits? Do you accommodate flexible working?

Whatever it is that makes your company attractive and unique, make sure to funnel that into your recruiting process.

Take care of your employees

Running a business is never easy, but our current climate is making things even more challenging. We wanted to end this discussion with some words of encouragement.

If your business can survive Brexit, a global pandemic and an inflating economy all in quick succession, it can also survive these labour shortages. Just remember to streamline your processes, adapt your recruitment methods and take care of your staff, as they will take care of your business.

Sole Trader VS Limited Company: Which is better for you?

Have you been thinking about switching to a limited company because of the upcoming changes due to Making Tax Digital? Has anyone told you that you could be paying less tax as the owner of a limited company instead? We will take you through what the differences are and ultimately help you make the right decision for you & your business.

Regardless of whether you stay a sole trader or become a limited company, if you make a profit in your business then you will have to pay some level of tax. Changing your company structure may change how you pay tax and may be beneficial for some, however there are other factors to consider as well as tax.

What is the difference between a sole trader and a limited company?

If you are a sole trader, then HMRC and the law view you & your business as the same thing. This doesn’t stop you from hiring staff or taking on premises, but what it does do is mean that you are personally liable for any losses or debts that your business makes. The good news is that as a sole trader you can keep all your business profits! Just remember that these business profits will then be taxed as part of your personal income.

A limited company however is a separate legal entity. It will have its own finances and legal reporting requirements, and Its finances must be kept separate from the business owner’s personal finances. As your limited company is a separate legal entity this means that as the director of your limited company you will have limited liability on any losses or debts incurred by the business. However, it is important to point out that if your company takes on any borrowing then the lender may place a personal guarantee on the directors of the business. In other words, if the business is unable to pay back the loan then the directors will be personally liable to pay back the loan.

What are the advantages to being a sole trader vs a limited company?

Setting up as a sole trader is comparatively straight forward. You simply need to register with HMRC for income tax and national insurance to receive your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number and you can start your business straight away.

There is also relatively little paperwork or administration, although the changes being brought in by Making Tax Digital mean that sole traders will have a legal obligation to keep their accounting records digitally up to date. You will no longer be able to only keep paper records and hand your receipts to your accountant once a year. This makes it easier to understand your finances, your profitability, and how much tax you are likely to pay, and see it in real time. As there is less administration and filing responsibilities, it also means a smaller accountants bill compared to a limited company!

One of the little realised advantages of trading as a sole trader is your financial affairs are very private. They are between you, your accountant and HMRC. There is no requirement, such as with limited companies, to put your annual accounts into the public domain on Companies House.

In your first period of account, if you are likely to make a taxable loss this can be relieved against profit from the past, even if this is from a prior employment, whereas in a limited company this can only be carried forward until a profit is made.

And finally, as a sole trader you are in complete control of your business affairs. You don’t need to consult any shareholders or partners to make decisions.

What are the disadvantages of being a sole trader vs a limited company?

Banks and other investors tend to prefer working with limited companies. This means it can be harder to raise finance as a sole trader. Whilst it is still possible to grow without external funding it can be much slower. After all, most businesses need to buy some equipment, vehicles, stock, or tools to be able to start trading.

It’s not just banks and investors who can look down on sole traders. Many businesses and customers prefer to work with a limited company vs a sole trader as they believe, whether rightly or wrongly, that they will have more protection with a limited company. However most ‘Business to Consumer’ sole traders are unlikely to have this problem with credibility. For example, a householder is rarely concerned whether a plumber is a sole trader or a limited company, they just want a good job done.

Historically the tax rates on sole traders have been more punitive than owners of limited companies. However, over the last 5 years or so this tax gap has reduced significantly with the dividend tax relief being slashed. Currently sole traders pay 20-45% income tax, whereas limited companies pay from 19% corporation tax. However, directors of limited companies must still pay personal income tax between 20-45% on any income from the business via payroll. Dividends from the business are also taxed.

As a sole trader you cannot protect your business name. Anyone can decide to use your business name. This is not the same with a limited company.

What are the advantages of being a limited company vs a sole trader?

The biggest benefit of incorporating and becoming a limited company is the limited liability and the business being legally entirely separate from the people who own it. This means that your personal assets will be secure should your company get into debt or other trouble.

A limited company can also be more attractive to work with – depending on your clients. You can appear to have more credibility and trust as a limited company over being a sole trader and depending on your industry this could make a difference in who decides to work with you.

Another benefit is that you are more able to control your income as a limited company director. By splitting your income between salary and dividends you may be able to reduce your tax bill. Dividends are taxed at a lower rate than income and the first £2000 is tax free.

While you pay corporation tax on all the profit, there is no getting away from paying tax, it is possible to accumulate wealth within the company if you do not need to extract it all and save tax that would be assessable on you if you were a sole trade.

What are the disadvantages of being a limited company vs a sole trader?

Limited companies are more complex to set up and run. There is far more paperwork and administration involved with a limited company. For example:

  • Confirmation Statement with Companies’ House
  • Filing company year-end accounts
  • Corporation tax return
  • Registering with companies house
  • Legal documentation such as articles of incorporation, shareholder agreements
  • Minutes of board meetings and preparation of dividend vouchers

Therefore, having a limited company means it is really advisable to pay for an accountant.

Directors of limited companies still need to:

  • File a personal tax return (which will eventually come under the Making Tax Digital regime)
  • Pay personal income tax

Why change from being a sole trader to a limited company?

When people start in business they often start as a sole trader. After all it is easy to set up and often has less administration or accountancy fees involved than a limited company. There often comes a time when it makes sense to switch over; either because of a desire to involve others in your business in a decision making capacity or pay less tax or become more attractive to potential clients or investors. In fact, when your sole trader profits (not just income) reach £30k it is worth considering changing to a limited company to reduce your tax liability.

Everyone’s circumstances are different and before you decide to make the change do take advice from your accountant. You may find that you are better off remaining as a sole trader.

If you would like more information or advice on whether you should remain a sole trader or become a limited company please get in touch now.